June Full Rose Moon Ritual – Fighting Fear with Love

I led this ritual for my Pagan group in June of 2018. It was a very powerful ritual, and it requires that you be completely open and vulnerable. When I first signed up to do this Full Moon, I thought I would be leading a fun and sexy ritual, but Aphrodite had other ideas. The experiences I shared were mine, but feel free to substitute your own if you would like to use this in a group setting. This also works as a solitary ritual. You will need a rose quartz stone for every participant, and decorations for the altar. I used three dozen roses (in white, red, and pink) and printed artwork of Aphrodite for my altar. (In case you are curious, this is the ritual I referenced in My Journey to Aphrodite – Part Two.) This year (2019), the June Full Moon is on Monday, June 17th.

Call the Quarters

North

We call to the North, to the element of Earth, to be with us this evening. Please help us to enjoy the earthly pleasures of our physical bodies, help us to remain grounded and reasonable when we are in conflict with our loved ones, and help us to remain strong when our loved ones need our support. Element of Earth, hail and welcome!

East

We call to the East, to the element of Air, to be with us this evening. Please help us to improve our communication in our love relationships, help us to inspire and be inspired by those we love, and help us to enjoy the meeting of the minds as we enjoy a meeting of the hearts. Element of Air, hail and welcome!

South

We call to the South, to the element of Fire, to be with us this evening. Please help us to kindle and maintain passion in our romantic relationships, help us to tend to the flame of desire even when we feel like it’s almost going out, and help us to let our hearts lead the way. Element of Fire, hail and welcome!

West

We call to the West, to the element of Water, to be with us this evening. Please help us to heal from past and present wounds from old or current relationships, please help us to be the balm to our lovers’ ills, and please help us to accurately express the truest emotions in our hearts. Element of Water, hail and welcome!

Invocation of Aphrodite

I invoke the goddess Aphrodite, the goddess of love, passion, desire, and sexual rapture. Oh patroness of the spark of passion and creation, please inspire us to pursue that which we desire, to create new art and inventions, and to strive for our dreams. May your fierce and protective love surround our circle. Hail and welcome!

Cast the Circle

(Cast a circle in a way that feels powerful for you. You will want a very safe sacred space for this ritual.)

Fighting Fear with Love

The June Full Moon is known by many names. In Europe, it is known as the Rose Moon, as the roses are in full bloom during this time. It is also known as the Strawberry Moon, the Flower Moon, the Honey Moon, and even (particularly pertinent for last week’s weather) the Hot Moon. During these long summer days around the solstice, the sweetness of life is full to bursting. The senses delight in nature, as we delight in our friendships and romantic relationships during this more social summer season.

While winter is typically considered the traditional season for reflection, we must not ignore what summer has to teach us. We must gaze just as bravely into the light in the summer, as we gaze bravely into the darkness of winter. When we look towards the light, to explore just how brilliantly we can shine and just how much we can love, we must also confront our barriers to love and our fear of shining brightly.

As you know, I am a devotee (and now a priestess) of Aphrodite, and I have invoked her here this evening. Aphrodite is generally known as a goddess of light, love, and beauty, and while it is true she is all of these things, she is also so much more. Aphrodite is a lover and a fighter. She is fierce, and while she can be gentle, she is not always. For the call to love, and love fiercely, unreservedly, whole-heartedly, and unconditionally, is by no means an easy task. To love in this manner requires bravery, commitment, and a dissolution of fear.

Love and fear cannot truly coexist. One cannot hold both love and fear in one’s heart simultaneously. And no fears are as strong, or as all-consuming, as our fears around love. This means that even in our deepest relationships, we may be making decisions from a place of fear instead of a place of love. I know I certainly have – many, many times over. It is only through confronting these fears that we may truly know the bliss of love.

When I say love, I mean all kinds of relational love: self-love, romantic love, the love of friendship, and the love of family. I want you to take a moment, be brave with me, and to think of your fears around love in each of these areas.

How are you afraid to love yourself? Do you ever fear that you are unlovable? Do you ever tell yourself “I’ll love myself when…”? “I’ll love myself when I lose that weight” “I’ll love myself when someone else loves me” “I’ll love myself when I get a new job, or get married, or have a kid, or get a new car” For years, I told myself that I would love myself and be loveable once I had a boyfriend, once I got married, or once I conquered my OCD. What are you afraid would happen if you were to radically love yourself? What would you do with all that extra time that you used to spend worrying? I can tell each of you, right now, every single one of you, that you are loveable, and that you are loved.

What about romantic love? I’ll come right out and say it – I am afraid of dying alone. Both in the sense of I might not find a life partner, and even if I do, that I will be the one left behind after they die. I’m afraid that my personal experience of love will not live up to the (probably unrealistic) expectations that I have of romance. I say these things, not to make you paranoid or to inspire fear, but to help bring that fear out of the darkness and into the light. By naming it, we take away some of its power, and we may begin to heal it.

I encourage you to take some time to yourself this cycle of the moon, to really explore your fears and barriers to love. Sometimes it helps to talk with someone – a friend, a loved one, or a trained professional – though to do this you must already overcome the fear of being open and vulnerable.

So, you’re probably thinking, “Thanks a lot! Now I have all of these fears. That’s totally not why I came to circle tonight. I thought you were going to be talking about something fun and racy, like sex. Now that I have all of these fears, what the fuck do I do with them?”

I ask of you, to fight the fear with love. At every opportunity, choose love over fear. I suggest picking one fear, or a set of related fears, to start. In this process, you must be kind to yourself. Do not judge yourself for having this fear. Fear is natural, and in some cases, healthy, but it is our biggest barrier to growth. Accept that you have this fear, and from this place of acceptance, you can begin to change it. You must surrender to your fear – not in the sense that you will let it conquer you, but in the sense that you will let it flow through you. There’s a pithy little saying “What we resist, persists” and there is some truth in that. The minute we start to judge ourselves for having fears, we close off our hearts. The heart must be open in order to change our relationship to fear.

Of course, we don’t have to go at this alone. We can call on divine help, both in the ethereal sense and in the form of friends, loved ones, and our spiritual community. When I began my relationship with Aphrodite, I was in a very fearful place, about pretty much everything in my life. My partner of five years had moved out and wanted distance in our relationship, I had discovered that my life plan of getting my PhD was not going to happen, and my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was so bad that it took me almost half an hour just to leave my own house.

In my years of working with her, Aphrodite has not just helped me in my romantic love life. She has helped me to accept and love myself, in spite of and even because of my mental disorder. Working with her has empowered me to tackle so many of my fears, to fully embrace my sexuality, to nurture my friendships, to draw clear boundaries with my family, and to open myself fully to love.

My first way of connecting to Aphrodite was through roses, which is why I wanted to honor her on this night of the Rose Full Moon. Rosewater and rose essential oil soon became staples in my home and on my altar. The fragrance was lovely, and it helped to put me in the right headspace and, more importantly, the right heartspace. My next way of connecting with Aphrodite was through rose quartz, which adorns the altar tonight. I began with rose quartz hearts – a pair of them placed together under my pillow, and in various places around my house – and then branched out to rose quartz of all shapes and sizes.

Rose quartz is fantastic for all types of love, particularly self-love and romantic love. It’s good for opening your heart chakra, for nurturing self-acceptance, for drawing in love, and for healing emotional pain. For me, I found that rose quartz was able to give me the infusion of loving energy I needed to positively reframe my troubles and to confront my more prominent fears. Simply holding it in my hand or placing it on my heart as I meditated filled me with love and joy.

Aphrodite, O Glorious Goddess, please shower us with the blessings of love!

Charge the Rose Quartz

Hold your rose quartz in your hands, close your eyes, and focus on what you need more love for in your life right now. Imagine a small, glowing pink light radiating from the center of the stone, gradually getting bigger and bigger, until it encompasses your whole hand. See the points of light from all the other stones within the circle, and know that you are surrounded by a supportive network of love. Take this stone with you. You can keep it in your pocket, tuck it under your pillow, or put it wherever you need it most. Remember that you are always surrounded by love.

Aphrodite, O Far-Shining One, thank you for your blessings of love!

So mote it be.

Cakes and Ale

Blessed be the hands that grew the grain, that harvested the fruit, and that baked the bread. Blessed be all hands, seen and unseen, that brought us this nourishment tonight. Blessed be.

Release the Circle

(Release the circle in a way that feels powerful for you.)

Gratitude to Aphrodite

Thank you, Aphrodite, for being with us tonight. Thank you for your blessings of love and passion. We honor you. Blessed be.

Release the Quarters

West

Thank you West, and the element of water, for your healing energies this evening. Hail and farewell!

South

Thank you South, and the element of fire, for your passionate energies this evening. Hail and farewell!

East

Thank you East, and the element of air, for your inspirational energies this evening. Hail and farewell!

North

Thank you North, and the element of earth, for your grounding energies this evening. Hail and farewell!

Spiritual Growing Pains (AKA Dealing With Your Shit)

If you’ve been on a spiritual path for very long, you know that there’s always baggage. There’s childhood trauma, past relationship pain, self-sabotage, the imposter syndrome, trust issues, betrayals, depression, anxiety, fears, and times you genuinely just fucked up. Despite your best efforts, despite the hours and hours of therapy, despite the meditations and forgiveness practices, despite all the pieces of paper aflame in your burning bowl, you still have shit to deal with.

Sometimes the issues that arise are related to something else going on in your life. There is a trigger that brings all the past pain you thought you had resolved bubbling back up to the surface. You may discover that what you thought was a well-healed scar is actually still a festering wound in need of some serious first aid.

At other times, problems may seem to arise at random (though in my experience, very few are truly random.) You may discover that you are unintentionally blocking something you want to manifest by holding onto a pattern that was in your past, but not what you want in your future. You may discover that healing does not, in fact, have a destination – like many things in the spiritual life, it is a journey, and you may never reach a perfect state of being “healed.”

And that’s okay. Accepting who you are and where you are at in your healing is the first step to moving forward. You have to know how bad the wound is in order to treat it. You may get a cut and think it’s no big deal. However, if you don’t properly wash out the cut, even when the skin has healed back over, there can be infection lurking under the surface.

We are all imperfect, fallible human beings. We can’t fight that, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try the best we can to deal with our issues with grace and compassion – for ourselves and all involved.

Take Care of Yourself

In the mundane world, the best first aid for spiritual growing pains is to take care of yourself. Practice self-compassion. Eat healthy food. Get enough sleep. Spend time with people that love you. Focus on something you are good at, and do that thing. Exercise. Take your vitamins and prescription medications. Go outside. Do something productive. Lay on the couch for a day, if you need to. Listen to your body. It knows what it needs.

Throw Away the “Shoulds”

When I was going through my most recent spiritual growing pains, a close friend told me to “throw away the shoulds.” I should be feeling this. I should have said that. I shouldn’t do this. Take all of that internal chatter and throw it out the window. Right now.

Because “should” doesn’t really matter. You feel that way you feel. No amount of thinking “I shouldn’t feel this way” is really going to change that. It just puts you in denial, and further from actually dealing with your problems.

We also tend to invalidate our own experiences with “shoulds.” We often use rationalizations to downplay our feelings and reactions. That happened so many years ago – I should be over it by now. My friend didn’t actually mean to hurt me – I shouldn’t be so upset. If a shark bit off your leg, you wouldn’t think “I shouldn’t feel pain because the shark didn’t actually mean to hurt me – it was just trying to survive.”

With shoulds, you are effectively doing the same thing with your feelings. My mother thought she was raising a strong, independent daughter when she told me not to cry in front of anyone. She thought she was doing what was best for me. Does it still hurt that I couldn’t share my emotions with her when I was growing up? Of course! Her intentions, however good, don’t negate my feelings.

Feel Your Feelings. All of Them.

Part of taking care of yourself also involves expressing the emotions you are feeling. Give yourself permission to feel them all, and feel them fully – just make sure you have a safe space to do this in. (Therapy is great for this.) Cry. Let out your body-wracking sobs laced with pain and hurt. Yell (somewhere the neighbors won’t call the police on you, and don’t yell at anyone, even the person who hurt you.) Throw a tantrum like a 2-year-old when you are alone in your room. Let it all out. Feel where the emotion is in your body and concentrate on it, going totally into the feeling.

Find some way to healthily express that emotion. Find a song that encapsulates that feeling and sing or dance to it. Paint. Write. Talk with a friend (just make sure you don’t inadvertently take that emotion out on said friend.) Run until your legs give out. Cuss like a sailor at your microwave. Find a punching bag. Take a martial arts class. Express the emotion through your body. Let it flow through you and out of you.

Processing

Once you’ve felt the depths of your emotions and expressed it in some way, you need to process what happened and why you are feeling what you are feeling. Therapy is also great for this, and you have a trained professional to help you. Talking things out with a wise friend is wonderful. Writing can be an excellent self-reflection tool.

Start with the facts – just what objectively happened and nothing more. Then layer on your interpretations of these facts. What motives did you assume the other person had? Why were you in this situation in the first place? How did you feel about what was happening? Learn to separate the facts from your experience. None of this means that your experience wasn’t real. On the contrary – it was very real for you, and that means it deserves respect. Being able to separate the facts from your experience just allows you to be a bit more objective so that you can learn whatever lessons the experience has to teach you.

Healing

The process of healing has already begun. Don’t be surprised if it takes some detours, loops back around to different steps again and again, or doesn’t go in a traditional straight line upward trend. The healing process is as unique as each person and each experience.

I know I’ve already touted the benefits of therapy in this post and others, but if you notice that your emotions are exceptionally intense or last for an extended period of time, PLEASE seek professional help. Therapists are specifically trained to help you through this process. Some therapists are better at it than others, and if you aren’t getting the help you need, look for a new therapist. That said, before you go looking around, make sure you are doing your part of the work, too.

Healing takes place over time at different levels. The particular issue I’m working through at the moment was from events that happened almost ten years ago. I’ve gone through several different levels of “I’m over it” and “No, really, I’m definitely over it now!” throughout the years. I was not over it. I am not over it. Not completely, anyway. As annoying as that is, I can still see the growth I’ve made since it first happened, and that gives me hope.

Spiritual First Aid

None of this process has to be done in a spiritual vacuum! I encourage you to actively make your spirituality a part of your healing process. Pray to your Goddesses and Gods. Light candles. Make offerings. Do magick. Perform energy work. Use crystals. Balance your chakras. Burn that shit away. Grow plants. Make charms. Cook delicious food with magickal herbs. Meditate. Sit in sacred space. Take a salt bath. Go for a hike. Plunge in the ocean. Sing songs of worship. Enjoy sacred movement. Make the Divine a part of your daily life.

And, above all, know that you are not alone.

Self-Compassion Ritual

The weekend after Valentine’s Day this year, one of the members of my pagan group fell ill, and could not lead the regularly scheduled Sunday Circle. Though I did not have a “back-pocket” ritual to fill in for a Sunday Circle, I got a huge Divine Shove to volunteer to lead. The resulting ritual was written in about three hours the day before! It was very clear to me that I wasn’t doing most of the writing (which has happened for the last few rituals I’ve lead) and that Aphrodite was writing through me. My fingers flew across the keyboard, and though I drew inspiration from other rituals I had led as well as from other sources, the spirit was entirely and completely Hers. This ritual was designed for a group of about 20 people, but it is easily adapted to a different size group or for solitary practice. For materials, you will need a small sheet of paper and a writing utensil for every participant, as well as whatever calls to you for an altar set-up to honor the elements and Aphrodite.

Quarter Calls

North

We call to the North, to the element of Earth to be with us today. Please help us to embody our own inner strength, so that we may remain grounded and confident in ourselves. Element of Earth, hail and welcome!

East

We call to the East, to the element of Air to be with us today. Please help us to acknowledge our own intelligence and creativity, so that we may inspire and be inspired by others. Element of Air, hail and welcome!

South

We call to the South, to the element of Fire to be with us today. Please help us to kindle our own passions and playfulness, so that our hearts may always lead the way. Element of Fire, hail and welcome!

West

We call to the West, to the element of Water, to be with us today. Please help us to recognize our own capacity for healing and forgiveness, so that we may heal and forgive ourselves, as well as others. Element of Water, hail and welcome!

Aphrodite Invocation

I invoke the goddess Aphrodite, the great goddess of love, in all its many forms. O Radiant Goddess, shine your light on us, so that we may realize our true brilliance. Help us to foster love and compassion for ourselves and others. Glorious Goddess, inspire us to walk with confidence in our everyday lives. May your fierce and protective love surround our circle. Hail and welcome!

Circle Casting

(Cast a Circle in a way that feels powerful for you.)

Introduction

As I’m sure you know, Valentine’s Day was this past Thursday. If you went out shopping at all, it was hard to miss. Shiny metallic hearts everywhere, a profusion of flowers and chocolates, and orante, sentimental cards. Some of you, like me, might be a sap when it comes to Valentine’s Day. While I don’t appreciate the commercialization, I am enamored with the idea of a day dedicated to love. I’m not particularly thrilled with it being named after a martyred Christian saint, and after a friend sent me an article by Beth Owl’s Daughter, I am now firmly on team “Let’s call it Aphrodite’s Day instead!”

For others, Valentine’s Day is little more than a hassle, or even downright depressing. There’s social pressure to make big romantic gestures, and for those who are not coupled, Single’s Awareness Day is all-too-real. There are a lot of judgements around Valentine’s Day, both of ourselves and from or about others.

Today, I want us to focus on the kind of love that doesn’t need a partner. It doesn’t have a special day, though it is something that we can practice for ourselves every day. That love is self-compassion.

Self-compassion can be a lot of things. For me, it’s about forgiving myself whenever I make a mistake. It’s about letting go of unrealistic expectations. It’s about self-acceptance. It’s about being kind, and knowing that I am doing the best that I can. It’s about choosing to love myself, regardless of the actions of others.

This can be a challenge – particularly in a world where we are flooded with media constantly telling us that we aren’t enough. We aren’t beautiful or handsome enough. We aren’t skilled enough. We aren’t fit enough. We aren’t rich enough. We aren’t good enough to have a partner. Or we aren’t a good enough partner for someone else.

Let me tell you something. It’s not a secret, though in our culture it’s guarded like one – only spoken in hushed tones between the closest of friends.

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

You are beautiful. You are handsome. You are skilled. You are abundant. You are kind. You are compassionate. And you are worthy of love. All kinds of love. Simply by being you.

I want you to keep this in mind throughout our ritual today. First, I am going to lead us in a heart-opening meditation, and then we will have an activity before we celebrate our wonderful selves with cakes and ale.

Heart Opening Meditation

Close your eyes. You are in a safe space here. Let’s make it even more secure by cleansing and shielding. Envision roots sprouting from your feet and burrowing into the ground, anchoring you in the nourishing and ever-loving earth. You see the light at the core of the earth flow upward toward you, bathing your roots in pure energy. Your roots form a conduit for this energy to move up the rest of your body, bit by bit. First toes, then feet, then ankles, until this brilliant glowing golden light has bathed every cell in your body.

Now, if you like, and if it feels right to you, you may see the light cascading upward out of the crown of your head, as if you were growing branches of light. Continue growing up, up, up into the atmosphere, until you have reached the cosmos. Once your branches have found that pool of ethereal energy, you may bring some back down your branches, down into your head, your chest, your arms, and the entire rest of your body. Feel these two harmonizing energies balance within you – earth and sky – and know that you are divine.

You may release these energies if you like, now that you are protected by the earth and the sky. Now, envision yourself surrounded by a globe of golden white light. In this sphere, only love remains and in this sphere only love may enter. You are totally safe.

If you haven’t started to pay attention to your breath, just place your awareness on it now. Feel the steady rise and fall of your chest. Now, sense your heart, or your heart chakra if that makes more sense to you. See your heart start to glow with that same brilliant golden white light. Imagine that you are breathing in and out of your heart. With each breath, your heart gets even brighter, filling your chest with light and spilling out to the rest of your body. You start to feel a warmth fill your heart. With a few more breaths, your heart is glowing like the sun, illuminating everything around it. You feel your insides soften, your heart growing stronger and brighter than ever before. You take one final breath, and you open a door to your heart – a door to the light within. You feel the abundance of light overflowing from you, out into the world, while feeling totally and completely nourished inside. You feel the light you send out return to you, filling you with joy. You breathe here for a moment, finding the equilibrium of your light with the world. If you wish, you may vow to keep this conduit open, so that you can receive and give love freely, always surrounded by your glowing sphere in which only love remains and through which only love may enter. Or, while still keeping your heart door open, you may slowly dim the energy and ground, if that feels best for you right now.

Self-Compassion Activity

I am passing around sheets of paper and some writing utensils. I want each of you to write out the numbers one through five, and I want you to write down five things you love about yourself. It can be anything, but try to focus your list on the human “being” that you are, not a human “doing.” Instead of saying “I volunteer for charity,” say “I am compassionate for others.” Don’t be shy! If you think you have a great butt, write it down! We often shortchange ourselves for fear of appearing arrogant. There’s no room for that here.

After you have finished writing down your five things you love about yourself, I want you to write in big letters at the bottom or on the other side of the card “I AM ENOUGH.”

And now, because truths are even more powerful when spoken aloud, I would like to invite everyone to share what you have written on your card. You don’t have to share all of them, or even any if you don’t want to, but I do invite you to share what you feel comfortable doing so in this supportive group. Please stand up and make your statements, and when you have finished with your list, I want you each to state “I AM ENOUGH.”

Since I asked each of you to be vulnerable, it’s only fair that I be vulnerable with you as well. Here is my list:

1. I am passionate about life, love, and caring for others.

2. I am adventurous.

3. I am beautiful, not despite my scar, but because of it.

4. I am a good friend.

5. I am worthy of love, regardless of others’ words or actions.

And I AM ENOUGH.

(Go around the circle and invite participants to share their lists if they feel called to do so.)

Cakes and Ale

Blessed be the hands that grew the grain, that harvested the fruit, and that baked the bread. Blessed be all hands, seen and unseen, that brought us this nourishment today. Blessed be.

(Share food and drink with all participants.)

Release the Circle

(Release the Circle in a way that feels powerful for you).

Gratitude to Aphrodite

Thank you, Aphrodite, for being with us today. Thank you for your blessings of love, particularly those of self-love. Thank you for shining your light on our beautiful beings. We honor you. Blessed be.

Release the Quarters

West

Thank you West, and the element of water, for your healing energies today. Hail and farewell!

South

Thank you South, and the element of fire, for your passionate energies today. Hail and farewell!

East

Thank you East, and the element of air, for your inspirational energies today. Hail and farewell!

North

Thank you North, and the element of earth, for your grounding energies today. Hail and farewell!


Some sources of inspiration:

Let’s Say Goodbye to That Sad, Martyred Saint! – Happy Aphrodite’s Day! by Beth Owl’s Daughter

Meditation to Open and Heal the Heart by Tess Whitehurst